How do you talk about Judaism in a way that’s not too “Jewish”? How do you convey Jewish ideas to Jews who might get turned off by religious ideas? Is it possible, in other words, to talk about the Jewish religion in a nonreligious way?
The start of the event was running late -- did I mention it was a Jewish event? -- and midway through our green room conversation, Hitchens pulled out a small bottle of Johnnie Walker Black. He emptied it into a 16-ounce clear-plastic cup and drizzled in some Crystal Geyser spring water. And he began sipping.
It belongs to the terrified childhood of our species, before we knew about germs or could account for earthquakes. It belongs to our childhood, too, in the less charming sense of demanding a tyrannical authority: a protective parent who demands compulsory love even as he exacts a tithe of fear.
"What I am saying is if you are religious at all, you are an extremist," Maher said in a phone interview last week.
As we get older, we no longer ask so many questions aloud. Our questions become more private: Why? Why are we on this earth? Events occur, and we ask: Why me? Or, why not me?
I enjoy pilgrimage sites as much as I enjoy sampling the obsessive-compulsive cuisine born of a strict religious diet